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East Bernard City Council moves forward with golf cart ordinance

Following a budget workshop at 6 p.m., the East Bernard City Council met at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 20 to discuss several agenda items, including an annual audit and discussion on moving forward with a golf cart ordinance.

After the mayor and city secretary’s report, Jeff Stogner of Baker, Stogner & Associates of El Campo, provided an update on the audit for Fiscal Year 2018-19.

Stogner told East Bernard City Council that the city received an unmodified opinion, which is the highest form of assurance an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can give.

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“Basically what it says is that the financial statements that we present fairly represent the financial position of the city,” Stogner said, highlighting several things in the report, including net position.

“The city had a total net position of $6,421,000, which is basically your assets over your liabilities, with capital assets of $5,587,000. Your city’s net income was $159,365,” he said. “Under the fund statement, your balance sheet shows a fund balance of $872,000. Of that, $296,000 is reserved for street improvement, which is your percentage of sales tax, which goes to that. That gives you $575,659 of unassigned fund balance. That’s what you have at your discretion to spend. 

“That fund balance increased $345,000 — that’s a huge increase over the prior years. That’s about 105% of your next year’s expenditures. At a minimum, we like to see about 35% and if you’re at 50%, you’re in good shape. Especially in these times, when everything is uncertain, if the worst possible happened, you have enough in fund reserves to cover the operations of the city for the next year. You’re in a very, very strong position.”

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Council also discussed moving forward on a golf cart ordinance. 

Precinct 3 Constable J.A. Szymanski attended the meeting to answer council members’ questions, as concerns were raised regarding the age of some drivers of golf carts.

Szymanski clarified that it is illegal for an individual to drive a golf cart on city streets who does not have a driver’s license.

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“Bottom line, it’s illegal,” he said. “The sheriff agrees if we’re going to enforce it, we need to enforce it totally. If y’all want to allow it, we need an ordinance. You need an ordinance to cover it and make it legal.”

Council members voted to move forward with the ordinance, which requires compliance with state law regarding the vehicle’s outfitting.

Other agenda items included:

• Discuss and consider for approval the minutes of the June 15, 2020, regular meeting.

• Discuss and take any necessary action on the findings of drainage issues on FM 1164.

After convening for executive session, the city took action on an evaluation of city personnel, East Bernard City Secretary Audrey Wessels, and proposed the possibility of a salary increase.

East Bernard City Council is scheduled to meet again at 7 p.m. on Aug. 24 at city hall, 704 Church Street.

For more information or to view past agendas and minutes, visit www.eastbernardtx.com.

Natalie Frels-Busbyhttps://www.thecountygin.com
Natalie Frels-Busby is the former editor-in-chief of The County Gin.

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